Nashville, TN: Members of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee (LPTN) are taking drastic measures to show the public the absurdity of ballot access laws in the state. With 25 signatures required to run as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, and 33,844 required to run as a 3rd Party, Libertarians across the state have decided to seek the office of governor running on a shared platform: “make elections free and equal.”
In Article 1, Section 5, the Tennessee state constitution declares that elections should be free and equal. Yet, only two parties have access to the ballot and rely on state-funded primaries for their nomination process. In order to be recognized on the ballot, the Libertarian Party is up against a threshold of 2.5% of the voters in the previous governor’s race, or 33,844 signatures.
Cole Ebel, Chairman of the LPTN made this comment, “We attempted to have that number lowered to 5000 through legislation, to make the ballots more free and equal. We even made a commitment to rely on privately funded caucuses, not state-funded primaries, to nominate our candidates. That effort was killed by legislative committee.”
With the prospect of a legislative fix unlikely before the midterms, LPTN members have turned to alternative means to inform the public of the absurdity of Tennessee state law. With free and equal ballot access as their primary platform, 22 Tennessee Libertarians (pending signature approval) have announced their independent candidacy for governor. These candidates are motivated to not only inform the public but to win their race for governor.
David Sexton, candidate for Governor and Vice Chair of the LPTN said, “We’re running as independents because the state of Tennessee won’t recognize us as a party. If we’re relegated to being independents, then we’re all forced to run independently.”
The current individuals have submitted their petitions to run for governor with the “make elections free and equal” platform for their campaigns: Gabriel Fancher, Sean Fleming, William Helmstetter, Cory King, Mathew Koch, Alfred Shawn Rapoza, Jeremy Stephenson, Tracy Tisdale, Vinnie Vineyard, Marcus Baker, Sherry Clark, Justin Cornett, Christopher Dunbar, Ashley Hughes, Daniel Lewis, Kenna Porter, Carlos Rawls, Heather Scott, David Sexton, Ryan Stuart, Mike Toews, and Jaron Weidner.